backcountry in Praxmar
Last Monday and Tuesday, Annette and I had work-related meetings in South Tyrol (northern Italy). We visited several production facilities owned by the Rubner Group, a holding company that includes manufacturers of glulam beams, wood panels, engineered timbers, and pre-fabricated houses. Since it’s January and the Alps are between Germany and Italy, we decided to spend the weekend near Innsbruck, Austria, on our way south.
For years Annette has been interested in backcountry skiing. She got a taste of it last year while visiting our friends Julie, Adam and Christina in Idaho, but she has always wanted to ski backcountry in the Alps. Last weekend we were able to try it.
Annette, our daughters and I spent New Year’s Eve in Bonn with Annette’s two sisters and their families. On the drive back to Berlin, I heard numerous reports on the radio about an explosion in the Nordrhein-Westfalen town of Euskirchen. The operator of a large excavator working at a rubble disposal yard had been killed when his machine struck what was thought to be unexploded ordinance from WWII. Windows within a 500 meter radius were shattered by the blast. Debris from the explosion was found nearly a kilometer away. The authorities believe that this bomb may previously have been encased in concrete, as was sometimes done when defusing was not feasible.
Approximately one tenth of the millions of bombs dropped by British and American planes on Germany during WWII did not explode. Every year, over 2,000 tons of unexploded bombs and other munitions are recovered. Unexploded ordinance is common enough that companies routinely hire private bomb disposal teams to check that sites are safe prior to construction. Safely disposing of the bombs is increasingly difficult as they decay over time. Continue reading
In late November I attended a conference sponsored by the German Energy Agency, which goes by the acronym “dena” (Deutsche Energie Agentur). I wrote about the conference for the website GreenBuildingAdvisor.com. The article is available here.
Portions of dena’s website are available in English here.
dena conference logo
Peter Altmaier, (then) Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety